John Nalivka: A Few Thoughts – Sustainability – Risk or reward? |

John Nalivka: A Few Thoughts – Sustainability – Risk or reward?

I have often written about sustainability in production agriculture and expressed my basic definition of sustainability — that is, managing your resources for long term profitability. Ranchers and farmers must manage resources, environmental and financial to limit risk. The reward to managing for sustainability and limiting risk is long term profitability. Who better knows how to manage for sustainability for their particular circumstances than the businessman who goes to work every day on his/her ranch or farm?

Turning to the current conversation about sustainability across the food industry, I am becoming increasingly concerned that we may be losing sight of the implications that this term may have on the very producers who are being told to embrace this concept as benefit to them and society.

Ask a consumer their definition of sustainability. Does their definition include the term profitable or the need for oversight? Oversight entails guidelines and worse yet, potential regulations. In other words, we may be working toward two different definitions or goals. The question becomes – where is this heading? Is the sustainability conversation adding risk?

I would submit that if we don’t seriously think about this concept we call sustainable, the industry will become increasingly burdened with guidelines and regulations. The end result could be costly – to you the American rancher or farmer. Again, you must manage to limit risk and maximize profit. This is sustainability and your reward. And, just as important, tell your story. F

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